PRESIDENT PUTIN TO MEET CHINESE LEADER IN TASHKENT IN SUMMER 2004

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MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Chinese leader Hu Jintao at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (which involves Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan) in Tashkent this summer.

"I hope for further contacts and cooperation with Chairman Hu Jintao, with whom I will meet in Tashkent this summer and later on when I am on an official visit to China in October," President Putin said at a meeting with Wu Bangguo, chairman of the standing committee of the national people's congress of China.

Mr. Putin gave a high assessment to the current level of cooperation between Russia and China.

"We have reached a high level of cooperation in the major areas of economic and political cooperation, at the inter-regional level and on the international arena," said Mr. Putin.

The president said bilateral cooperation was developing at a brisk pace.

Mr. Bangguo, for his part, said that while touring Russia he had visited Khabarovsk and Irkutsk and was yet to visit St Petersburg.

"Radical changes can be seen in Moscow, as well as in Russia's Far East. Things have improved dramatically across Russia," said Mr. Bangguo.

The Chinese official said Russia was one of the most rapidly developing countries at the moment. "This is in the Russian people's interests, as well as an important contribution to world economic development. China, as Russia's neighbour and partner, wholeheartedly welcomes its successes," he said.

Russia's development meets globalisation requirements and is in the interests of Russo-Chinese strategic cooperation, according to Mr. Bangguo.

"We are positive, Russia will achieve its aim - national prosperity and people's wellbeing. We believe under your guidance, Russia will achieve even more impressive results," said Mr. Bangguo.

The Chinese official noted the fact that the Russian leader in his state of the nation address had emphasised the importance of developing ties with China. "We know that the address is of great importance for the Russian state's further development," added the MP.

Mr. Bangguo conveyed warm regards to President Putin from Hu Jintao and ex-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin.

He said Mr. Jintao was also looking forward to meeting Mr. Putin in China.

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